About GakuNin

Development of the Academic Access Management Federation in Japan (GakuNin)

With the cooperation of universities etc. throughout Japan, full-scale development and management of the Academic Access Management Federation in Japan (nickname: GakuNin) started in 2009.

About the Academic Access Management Federation in Japan

The Academic Access Management Federation in Japan is a federation consisting of universities, who are users of academic e-resources, and organizations like publishers, who are providers of such e-resources. By mutually trusting rules/policy stipulated by the Federation, organizations will be able to utilize federated access between each other.

Once the federated authentication is put into place, it will enable on-campus Single Sign-On (the mechanism where a single ID and password permit a user to access all systems). It will also create an environment where a user can access other university and commercial services using a single password and without the need to re-enter the ID or password. For example, a user can use another university’s wireless LAN with the home university’s ID and password, and seamlessly access e-journals that the home university subscribes to. 


infrastructure of gakunin
Figure: Structure of GakuNin

The technology we use is Shibboleth (Note 1), which was developed by Internet 2 (USA). Shibboleth has been used in many other countries; however, there is a wide range of technical and operational aspects that have to be decided upon, such as support for Japanese language, construction of a governing structure, and establishing associated rules. In particular, there are many aspects that have to be developed specifically for Japan, such as complying with Japanese Personal Information Protection laws.

In order to materialize these aspects, we conducted a feasibility study in 2008, implemented a pilot operation in 2009, and, based on the associated results, started production operation in 2010. As we shifted to the full-scale operation, we established a GakuNin Taskforce so that GakuNin could be developed into a federation supported by its users. We called for staff members of Information Technology Centers or libraries, who had shown an understanding and offered to help the Federation’s activities, to join the taskforce and provide feedback on various aspects of GakuNin activities from the user’s viewpoint.
road map to gakunin


Figure: Road map to GakuNin 


(Note1) about Shibboleth

Shibboleth is a project started by EDUCAUSE/Internet 2 (USA) in 2000. It draws up technical standards for authentication and authorization by utilizing standards such as SAML or eduPerson, and provides these as open-source.




Inter-federation Activities

In other countries and regions than Japan, academic identity federations similar to the GakuNin in Japan are in use in production environments. Furthermore, there is an inter-federation framework called eduGAIN, which allows federations to cooperate with each other across national borders. GakuNin joins this framework.

For more information of federations participating in eduGAIN, please refer to the following "Membership and status" page on the official eduGAIN website.